Fund Empowers Women Across HK

The Women Empowerment Fund has been joining forces with women's groups and non-governmental organisations to launch projects to support local women.



Established by the Home & Youth Affairs Bureau, the fund is allocated annual funding of $20 million. Since its launch in June last year, it has approved 145 projects of diverse nature and themes, such as cheongsam making workshops.

 

Preserving culture

During a recent workshop, a group of women learnt about the intricate tailoring techniques involved in making the traditional Chinese garment of a cheongsam.

 

One of them was Venus Woo, whose interest in the craft was piqued further during the workshop.

 

“I could not have imagined that the process was like this. For instance, using paste to stiffen the fabric. I want to learn more about crafting cheongsams. The skills are different compared to making regular garments as these methods are unique.”

 

Another workshop participant, Ada Lau, said she appreciated the opportunity to learn the Hong Kong cheongsam making technique as it is on the national list of intangible cultural heritage.

 

“There are very few classes like this, so when I heard they organised this activity, I signed up immediately. After learning these skills, my confidence has grown.”

 

With many of the cheongsam craftspeople now in their twilight years and only a handful of senior tailors left in Hong Kong, Cultural Inheritance & Development Foundation Chairman Cammie Chan emphasised the need to promote the traditional craftsmanship.

 

“This project aims to offer more women opportunities to learn new skills, foster self-development and learn Chinese traditions, especially the crafts of cheongsam making and button knot tying. By mastering these skills, we hope to increase employment opportunities for women, encourage them to pursue their dreams as well as boost productivity in society.”

 

Unleashing potential

Commissioner for Women Affairs Joyce Chan highlighted the fund's commitment to supporting women, regardless of their age, occupation or background, to realise their full potential in their respective roles, ultimately achieving the goal of promoting women's development in Hong Kong.

 

“To accommodate the various needs of women, we have five themes under the general projects, such as assisting them to accomplish transformation in the job market, promoting their physical and mental health, and coping with different roles in society and their family.

 

“We have a project which provides training for women in catering which includes how to manage and operate a restaurant. 

 

“Some other projects under the fund use traditional Chinese crafts as the main axle, so that participants could gain new knowledge and at the same time promote Chinese culture.”



Expanding horizons

The fund is divided into general projects and thematic projects.

Ms Chan explained that last year’s thematic project was the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Exchange Programme.

 

“Organisations can apply for funding to organise exchange activities in Macau and the other nine cities in the Mainland Greater Bay Area to encourage Hong Kong women to broaden their horizons and learn more about our country’s development.”

Participant Zoe Tse shared her experience of joining a three-day visit organised by the Hong Kong Island Women's Association, where she met accomplished female entrepreneurs.



“They have been extremely focused in their own profession. For example, we met a qipao master who has turned qipaos into big business in China and across the world.”

Fellow participant Clara Cheong said she was honoured to be able to visit companies in Guangzhou that are owned by female entrepreneurs.

 

“It was a great opportunity for us. We not only spent an enjoyable three days but got to know the representatives and all the members from the Guangzhou women associations.”

 

Following the positive response to the fund’s Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Exchange Programme, the bureau announced it would be regularised in 2024-25 and a new dedicated scheme introduced to encourage women to actively plan and take part in community services, providing more opportunities for them to broaden their horizons.

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